Permaculture Realists & Optimists

SUBHEAD: The “realists/doomsters” versus the “optimists/delusional-dreamers”.
By Wayne Davis on 01 May 2009 in The Daily Loaf - Image above: Permaculture in a new urban setting. The best of both worlds? From Concerns for the disastrous consequences of Peak-Oil and Climate Change are the most obvious reasons for “Going Green”. A great deal has been written about both subjects and it is not my desire to discuss the merits or lack thereof of either topic. You have probably “framed” your own position by now. I do posit the belief (based on the science I have seen) that the global production of sweet crude has peaked and that our species is responsible for major disruptions in the natural rhythms of the earth upon which we depend for survival. In my last post I referenced Rob Hopkins (and I do so again). It would be well worth your time to listen to his interview if you have not. As an instructor and major advocate of permaculture he has great insight on how we need to approach the future collapse of America. The “Transition Initiative” is a methodology he and others have devised to help the communities of villages and hamlets in the U.K. understand the risks of complacency and move toward post-carbon solutions. They say that it is not merely going back to the past in terms of lifestyle but it has all the appearances. I know enough about permaculture to be dangerous and I will not attempt to illuminate you on the subject. You would learn best through your own investigation of more authoritative sources. My range of experiences includes attending lectures on permaculture and the transition initiative given by various “certified” individuals, reading a variety of books, and searching and digesting hours of internet videos and web sites (”Establishing a Food Forest” is exceptional). Permaculture has been presented to me as a large umbrella that encompasses literally all human endeavors which sustain human civilized life (economy, energy, transportation, food production and so on). Not to in any way belittle the image of permaculture but it seems that the term is most commonly used with respect to organic food production. Getting back to the Transition Initiative (TI). After some seminars and reading The Transition Handbook by Rob Hopkins I had the following observations: this concept seems to work well in villages and hamlets, and like Totnes, it requires a majority of the village population to understand the dangers of peak oil and climate change and it requires the village to be of “one mind” in the action of transition, power down and energy descent. The TI folks use a film called The End of Suburbia and the lectures and writings of Richard Heinberg (Power Down, The Party’s Over) to begin the educational process for the uninitiated with respect to peak oil. (Peter Calthorpe and James Howard Kunstler are also players in The End of Suburbia). In addition the TI process relies on tools such as The World CafĂ© to help the community come together to transition towards a more viable lifestyle that will be required after the crash. That may be a little too much background but I felt it necessary in the presentation of my point of view. The topic of this discussion concerns the “doomers” and the “optimists” or as I like to say the “realists” and the “delusional utopian dreamers”. I am willing to play nice, so I’ll settle with the “realists” and the “optimists” (R/O) to borrow from Dimitry Orlov’s Reinventing Collapse. Let me be clear that I am only applying the R/O dichotomy for this post with respect to how the permaculturists (”Permies”) view transitioning a city like St. Petersburg, FL, (not to mention Los Angeles) into a fully functional and sustainable community in the post-carbon world (that same world depicted so clearly by James Howard Kunstler in “World Made by Hand“). I began studying Traditional Neighborhood Design (TND) about eight years ago and it has aquired another handle, New Urbanism ( I call them “Nurbs”). The Permies, just like the Nurbs, have segregated the world into “zones”, where the Permies have six zones and the Nurbs have seven. In the Permie world there is one zone (zone zero) that contains the “house”. It is the only zone that contains any built environment. The Nurbs, not surprisingly, have only one zone that is unbuilt, zone T1, the natural zone. The Permies concern themselves, per their zones definitions, with the “house” and all the remaining natural zones that remain unbuilt. The Nurbs are primarily concerned with the built environment and especially with the “city”. Here’s the rub: The Permies think they can transition a city like St. Petersburg or Los Angeles. I have spent a good deal of my life in both cities and I think they are totally delusional. My reasoning involves: human nature, existing population densities, the existing built environment and simple logistics. It is important to remember that the post-carbon world envisioned by the Permies has no electrical power, no fuel, everything is made by hand from naturally available materials and that technology will not save us. (I am in agreement there.) Babcock Ranch and SKY are good examples of village designs that can transition. I have a running discussion with one of my best friends (an optimist) concerning the role that hope should play in the way we shape our views, thoughts and subsequent behaviors. He feels that hope is absolutely instrumental in living his life. That is not how I live my life. Hope, for me, is derived from “faith, hope and charity”, which is not a stable foundation upon which to base possible life threatening (or even pleasurable) decisions. I want to know the odds. That chair will probably support me. Less oil with greater demand will probably lead to conflict. My friend hopes that Obama will pull us through this mess. I perceive that the likelihood of that happening is very low given that the O-man selected and stands behind Timothy Geithner (TG) and Lawrence Summers (LS). Those two guys are major players in the game that got us to where we are now! Trusting them is like believing that democracy should be two foxes and a chicken deciding the dinner menu. Here’s the deal. Look around you. This is the result of thousands of years of humans trying their very best to create a perfect civilization. I am not inspired. Let’s look back 75 years and see what direction we humans are going. Read Adam Cohen’s Nothing to Fear, about FDR’s cabinet members. FDR’s cabinet included Francis Perkins - a feminist before her time and the strongest advocate for social welfare programs. She like the other cabinet members fought hard for America to get back on its feet. Now we have the likes of TG and LS doing their best to help themselves, the banksters and their worthless Wall Street crony friends. Hope? Good luck! Human Nature. Let’s take a look at diversity. Doesn’t it feel good to know that Charles Manson and George W. Bush are your brothers? We are all in this together brothers and sisters. Give them the benefit of the doubt. They just did what they thought was right (really!). They are just, perhaps, a little “different” than you or me; diverse, if you will. It might do us well to introduce George Lakoff and his concept of “framing” along with Bob Altemeyer and his studies with the RWA’s (Right Wing Authoritarians). Most of us have a point of view, a “frame” of reference. Listen to Lakoff’s discussion. After all, who really thinks the entire foundation of their being, their “frame”, is flawed in any way? Yet, we are so “diverse” as a species. Sometimes I wonder how anything positive gets done. The point I am trying to make about human nature and the delusional concept of transitioning St. Pete is that a city with that many people will never hold hands and skip off towards some blissful future united in transcendental love and harmony. James Howard Kunstler paints a much more realistic picture in World Made by Hand. People tend to associate and group themselves into subsets that have similarities. I guess we’ll have to study population densities, the existing built environment, and logistics some other time. Peace, Love, Dove. Everything is just fine.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment.

Industrial Society is destroying necessary things [Animals, Trees, Air, Water and Land] for making unnecessary things [consumer goods].

"Growth Rate" - "Economy Rate" - "GDP"

These are figures of "Ecocide".
These are figures of "crimes against Nature".
These are figures of "destruction of Ecosystems".
These are figures of "Insanity, Abnormality and Criminality".

The link between Mind and Social / Environmental-Issues.

The fast-paced, consumerist lifestyle of Industrial Society is causing exponential rise in psychological problems besides destroying the environment. All issues are interlinked. Our Minds cannot be peaceful when attention-spans are down to nanoseconds, microseconds and milliseconds. Our Minds cannot be peaceful if we destroy Nature [Animals, Trees, Air, Water and Land].

Destroy the system that has killed all ecosystems.

Chief Seattle of the Indian Tribe had warned the destroyers of ecosystems way back in 1854 :

Only after the last tree has been cut down,
Only after the last river has been poisoned,
Only after the last fish has been caught,
Only then will you realize that you cannot eat money.

To read the complete article please follow any of these links.

Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment

Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment

Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment

Industrial Society Destroys Mind and Environment

Delhi, India

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